Scrapbookpages Blog

July 11, 2010

Polish Catholic priest who survived Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 6:48 pm

I was just reading the online newspaper called The Journal of International Falls, Minnesota and I learned about a Polish Catholic priest who had been scheduled to be executed three hours after American soldiers liberated the Dachau concentration camp.

As you may know, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated by the 45th Thunderbird Division and the 42nd Rainbow Division of the US Seventh Army on April 29, 1945.  The night before, all the regular guards and the acting Commandant, Martin Weiss, had left the camp and turned everything over to the International Committee of Dachau, a group of prisoners that was headed by Albert Guérisse, a British SOE agent.  A group of Hungarian and German Waffen-SS soldiers had been sent to maintain order while the camp was surrendered by 2nd Lt. Heinrich Wicker.  You can read all about the liberation of Dachau here.

In the midst of all this chaos, the Gestapo had apparently sent an execution order to kill Father Chester Kozal, a Polish priest.  He was saved by the Americans who arrived just three hours before his scheduled execution.

Chester (Czesli) Kozal wrote a Memoir which was translated by Paul Ischler in 2004. Father Kozal was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.  I haven’t read his Memoir, but my guess is that Father Kozal was arrested in 1939 because he was helping the Polish Resistance after Poland was conquered by the Germans on the battlefield in only 28 days.  It only took the Germans 6 years to schedule his execution at Dachau, just as they were losing the war and were ready to surrender Dachau to the Americans.

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